The government of the Republic of Somaliland, today, revoked agreements with private firms previously printing official documents such as driving licenses, road tax stickers and passports.

The Minister of Finance, Yussuf Mohamed Abdi, withdrew printing licenses previously granted to Horn African Facility Management, Somaliland ID Card Publisher,  Moonlight Company, Sahal Global Solutions, and Global Tech Solution.

The Minister ordered on Decree No. WM/02/08-01/1620/2018 that from today on the printing of the national passports and all its forms, duty stamps, road tax stickers, vehicle log books, driving licenses and visa stickers will revert to the State Printing Agency – a government-owned facility. Likewise, all the printing facilities and supplies used for printing those official documents be handed over to the SPA.

Somaliland ID Card Publisher (SICP) secured the necessary licensing to print driving licenses from the previous Kulmiye government in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Sahal Global Solutions (SGS) printed road tax and licenses renewal stickers where Sahal Tech Solutions (STS) printed vehicle log books and Moon Light Company duty stamps.

Horn African Facility Management (HAFM) had the printing concession of passports and passports-related stickers, such as visas.

The measures, observers note, could have worked relatively well in circumstances where alternative resources and wider opportunities existed for services and professional firms. Sadly there is none, and the few that existed are disappearing by the day through heavy-handed decrees, they point out.

Closely following behind other recalled concessions and licenses with which the private sector partnered with the government such as the vehicle number plates, the Berbera oil terminal, Airport securities and parking lots, a pall of fresh misgivings on how far the market can survive on very stringent, austere, seemingly unthought-of economic measures, coupled with ever-soaring inflation and spiraling taxes,  is settling on the business sector. The pinch can already be felt on the street and at homes.

A motorist has now to pay, for instance, US$60 to change his/her number plate to a similar one over a previously US$40 on the original, US$50 to get a plastic vehicle log card, and nearly US$20 that no one can rightly justify or explain – all of which are extremely unnecessary, waste of resources and an intolerable burden on a taxpayer already being stifled by a score of other concerns set on by a careening market inflation.

The Minister cited the absence of a valid Public-Private Partnership Act for his sweeping abrogation of an informal but strong trust which existed between the two sides, and which, hitherto, worked relatively well for the nation.